Copyright Rights for Recovery - 2016

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HomeAdvocacyWhen Substance Use Disorder Treatment Doesn’t Work: Fingers Pointing The Wrong Way

When Substance Use Disorder Treatment Doesn’t Work: Fingers Pointing The Wrong Way

When Substance Use Disorder Treatment Doesn’t Work: Fingers Pointing The Wrong Way

If somebody we cared about sought treatment for cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure or any other health condition and that treatment was ineffective, would we blame, shame and slam shut the doors on that individual or would we turn toward the healthcare provider to produce better outcomes?  I imagine we would do the latter.  I reckon that most of us would demand better treatment and support options for our loved one rather than mistakenly and harmfully faulting them for its ineffectiveness. Why then, when it comes to substance use disorder treatment, are we so quick to point fingers at the person who is unwell for not getting better rather than looking at the healthcare system that has failed them?  Why do we so often penalize the individual, kick them out of treatment and lay the blame on them for their condition not improving?  Why don’t we demand more effective treatment for substance use disorder instead?

Producing good treatment outcomes should not be like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some will stick.  We should not settle for substance use disorder treatment that overwhelmingly fails to address the condition it is supposed to be treating.  Individuals seeking substance use disorder treatment should not be chastised when the treatment they sought is not working.  It should not be the norm that individuals need multiple treatment episodes in order to experience recovery.  If the treatment and support received is consistently not working, we should instead be looking to the provider and larger healthcare system and collectively be asking the question “why?”  We should demand more research, the implementation of evidence-based interventions and increased accountability on the part of providers and the healthcare system at-large to produce better outcomes.

We would never tell somebody who seeks treatment for any other health condition but does not experience improvement that it is their fault.  We would never allow providers to continue to practice if they are not producing good outcomes.  We would never be okay with such unsatisfactory treatment in any other arena.  When will we stop being okay with this for the millions of people we care about in need of quality substance use disorder treatment and support?

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Born and raised in Philadelphia, Brooke openly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ communities and a person in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder. What this means for Brooke is that she has not used alcohol or other drugs for over 11 years and, in turn, has been able to stop the intergenerational transmission of addiction that claimed her own mother’s life at a young age.


  • Treatment for addiction varies greatly from one rehab to another, with each one working off of there model, there way, what they think works best. There rarely is not much variation from person to person, with success rarely being seen. No two people are alike,they vary greatly in all aspects size, shape, gender, ethnic back ground, up bringing, one parent, two parent, no parents, inner city, suburbia , wealthy, poor, abused as a child physically or mentally, and the list could go on indefinitely. Each addict needs to be treated differently according to there ” life story “, we use to hide, not feel, surpress our feelings, escape reality, so to point at the individual and say ” it’s there fault ” is doing nothing but passing the blame for a system that is broken and controlled by money, politicians, big insurance company’s, and a society that is uneducated on the disease of addiction. When your diagnosed with any other disease the treatment options are multiple, if one option doesn’t work, 9 out of 10 times there are other options tried, until they find something that works, but not so with addiction, one and done, hit the road jack and hope you don’t die. Sad that our way is oh so wrong, for a disease that’s crippling our country.

    June 6, 2016
  • Well said! We have to fight back against the abstinence only 12-step model that has hijacked what passes for treatment in the U.S. There is no such thing as a “disease” that can only respond to a “spiritual solution”. That’s holding back scientific progress such as medication assisted treatment, to include The Sinclair Method for alcohol use disorder.
    I am one of the millions who was harmed by AA rhetoric. I finally sought real therapy, and rebuilt my self esteem and a sense of personal empowerment (yes!) with Women for Sobriety, a secular support group.

    June 6, 2016

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